American versus Israeli Geo-Political Objectives in the Struggle for a Free Sudan
by Jerry Gordon (April 2009)
Sudan -The bloody boundary
The Sudan Comprehensive Peace Act of 2005 and the ICC Arrest warrant for Gen. Bashir
- Elections. The CPA calls for general elections before mid-2009, with the aim of replacing appointed politicians with elected officials. Elections are meant to include state governors, state assemblies, the presidencies of Northern and Southern Sudan, the National Assembly in Khartoum, and the Legislative Assembly of Southern Sudan. Elections cannot be held prior to the completion of a country-wide census. According to the implementation schedule, the census was supposed to be completed by July 2007; as of early 2009, its results had not been released.
- Wealth-sharing. The CPA calls for the distribution of a greater share of oil revenues to the south, but it also commits to development funds that invest in conflict-affected areas, and the transfer of more resources to states. According to the World Bank, the percentage of government expenditures distributed by states increased from 8 percent in 2000 to 35 percent in 2007.
- Land. The CPA promises to establish a National Land Commission to resolve the multiple legal regimes for land ownership. In some areas, the state leases tribal lands, while in others, ownership is market-based. Experts say resolving conflict in the periphery will require resolving land problems, particularly in areas like Darfur, where massive displacement has complicated ownership issues.
Sudan – a test of Obama’s Foreign Policy
The sharper tone and the appointment of General Gration come after criticism from activists who once saw Mr. Obama and his team as allies in the struggle to save the people of Darfur. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama lamented the “stain on our souls” left by the mass death in Darfur and vowed “never again.” Mrs. Clinton called for a no-flight zone. And Susan E. Rice, a top Obama adviser, even envisioned a bombing campaign to save victims.
But with the first major new humanitarian crisis on Mr. Obama’s watch, advocates complained that the urgency of the campaign trail had given way to inertia, infighting and inaction. More than one million Darfurians are at risk while the new administration debates what to do, the advocates said. “Why is there a disconnect?” asked Jerry Fowler, the president of the Save Darfur Coalition, an umbrella organization, recalling Mr. Obama’s strong words as a candidate. “We need presidential engagement and we need it now.”
Christianity Today in an article highlights the vindictiveness of Gen. Bashir in ejecting international humanitarian aid groups from Sudan in retribution for the ICC arrest warrant. This move could imperil the CPA and the lives of minority refugees in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains and the South. Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom and a member of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom gave this grim assessment:
"[The ICC] has essentially made an empty threat that gives Bashir the excuse he's been looking for to block international aid to war-ravaged Darfur and, quite likely, to end compliance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in the South," said Shea.
"Bashir has in effect already carried out two genocides — in Darfur and in the South. He is a remorseless tyrant," said Shea. "His long-term goal has been to annihilate and drive out these non-Arab and/or peacekeepers, humanitarian agencies, and governments."
The issue raised by Shea and others is what is the moral obligation of the Obama Administration that made Darfur and Sudan a priority during the 2008 Presidential campaign. Witness this comment:
Shea said that the administration failing to take action "consistent with Sudan being treated as a foreign policy priority will raise the question of whether the President and Secretary Clinton — who attested Sudan and the CPA were a priority at her confirmation hearing — were merely exploiting Sudan as a campaign strategy."
President Obama recently named retired Major General Scott Gration to be the special presidential envoy to Sudan. Advocacy groups have pressed hard for this diplomatic post to be named right away to bring fresh energy into the peace process in Sudan.
During the presidential campaign, Obama said ending the crisis in Sudan would be a priority. "We can't say 'never again,' and then allow it to happen again," Obama said in April 2008 in a video address to the Save Darfur Coalition, "and as President of the United Sates, I don't intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter."
The problem is that Sudan may become a daunting effort for the Obama Administration to address at a time when it is also engaged in outreach to the Muslim world that has announced solidarity with the Bashir regime.
The contrast, as we will now see, is what the Israelis have done to further their geo-political objectives of combating the Sudan Islamist regime and supporting the regional autonomous interests of both Darfur and the South Sudan.
Sudan has maintained close relations with Iran since the 1989 coup which brought Omar al-Bashir to power. Bashir's coup was carried out in co-operation with the National Islamic Front. Members of the front went on to hold key positions in the new regime. Iranian supplies of weapons and oil began soon after. Hassan al-Turabi, a Muslim Brotherhood associated Sudanese Islamist activist, was the key figure in building the Iran-Sudan link in the early days of the regime.
Al-Turabi , son of an Islamic law judge in the Sudan, is a graduate of the London School of Economics and the Sorbonne. He is a proponent of a heterodox form of Islamic Sharia Law that would include recognition of music, figurative art and limited women’s rights, something not acceptable to fundamentalist Islam. With the military coup in 1989 that Al-Turabi supported, Sudan reached out to fashion relations with the Mullahs in Tehran. He extended an invitation to Bin Laden to reside in the Sudan in the 1990’s and to assist in both road and highway work, development of terrorist training camps and resistance against the Christian and animist forces in the South. He also supported the Palestinian terror group Abu Nidal and gave sanctuary to Carlos ‘the Jackal’ Ramirez, until his capture by French security forces and trial in France. Al-Turabi abetted the assassination attempt by Egyptian Islamic Jihad on the life of President Mubarek of Egypt in Ethiopia in 1995.
The relations between al-Turabi and Sudanese strongman Bashir have deteriorated since their earlier alliance. He called the Darfurian JEM’s armed attack on Khartoum on May 12, 2008 a ‘positive development.’ He was promptly jailed based on allegations that his name was discovered in several JEM documents. Al-Turabi was jailed again in January, 2009 when he called for General Bashir to surrender himself to the ICC for his involvement in the Darfur genocide. He was recently released from prison on March 8th following the issuance of the ICC arrest warrant for General Bashir.
The new Sudanese armed forces were built on the model of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. 2,000 IRGC members are reported to have visited Sudan to aid in the creation and training of the new Sudanese army.
Since 1989, Sudan has become a center for terrorist training. The regime offered a base to Osama Bin-Laden and his followers in the early part of the 1990s. It is estimated that around 10 camps are maintained in Sudan, for the purpose of offering training to Islamist terrorist and paramilitary forces. Hamas members and others are reported to have taken part in military exercises in these camps. Sudan's documented close relations with Hamas are the main reason why the country appears on the US State Department's list of countries supporting terrorism.
Sudan's membership in the pro-Iranian regional alliance was in evidence earlier this month, when a senior delegation of Iranian, Syrian, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah officials traveled to Khartoum to express 'solidarity' with the Sudanese leader, who is currently subject to an international arrest warrant.
Israeli interests in Sudan are reflected in several initiatives with both the SPLM in the South and the Darfurian SLM.
In March, 2008, the Sudan Tribune reported the opening of offices in Israel:
After consultation with the leadership of SPLM in Juba, the supporters of SPLM in Israel have decided to establish the office of SPLM in Israel. Said a statement received by email from Tel Aviv signed by the SLMP secretariat in Israel.
The statement said that SPLM office would promote the policies and the vision of the SPLM in the region. It further added that in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement the SPLM has the right to open in any country including Israel.
It also indicated that there are around 400 SPLM supporters in Israel.
"The Southern Sudanese in Israel are very grateful to the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit who persuaded the Israeli government to resettle Southerners who escaped from Egypt." The statement said.
Subsequently, the SPLM denied in an Al Jazeera report that it was opening an ‘embassy’ in Israel.
Paris-based Darfur SLM leader Abdel Wahid al Nur, who champions a secular Democratic Sudan, continues his relations with Israel that has engendered a fracas with the Bashir government Arab League ally, Mummar Qadhafi of Libya. Note this recent Sudan Tribune report:
A Darfur rebel leader today expressed “regret” over statements made by Libyan president Mu’ammar Qadhafi today in which he accused Israel of standing behind the conflict in the Western region of Darfur.
Nina Shea commented to the author, “Israel is smart and extremely perceptive of the geo-political significance of a Free South Sudan.”
The strange case of the M/V Faina Somali pirate Hijacking
Note the case of the mystery ship, the Ukrainian roll on roll off cargo ship M/V Faina as noted by this American Chronicle report:
The Ukrainian MV FAINA operated under cover of a Belize flag when it was hi-jacked on September 25, 2008 in the late afternoon by a gang of Somali pirates in three fast skiffs off the coast of Somalia on the way to its destination at the Kenyan harbor of Mombasa, where it was supposed to arrive in the early morning hours of the September 27, 2008. Reports claimed that Sudan and Russia had a hand in the capture of the ship.
Nyna Karpachyova, the Ukrainian parliament's human rights ombudsman, said that the real owner of the weapon-ship [carrying a cargo of Soviet era 33 T-72 tanks (including rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns)[is an Israeli citizen with the name Vadim Alperin (alias Vadim Oltrena). It is extremely rare for ships to be registered to individual investors such as Mr. Alperin. Alperin acquired this ship from a Russian state auction during the era of Boris Yeltsin. The ship was refurbished and later conveniently registered to fly the Belize flag. Other ships by the same owner where found to be operating as casinos, including one based in the Gulf to entertain rich Arab clients. Alperin was identified a "Mossad brother" running a number of clandestine front companies included a Kenyan Meat export company enjoying good trade with Middle Eastern countries, but covertly used for gathering intelligence from countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
For many years, the Khartoum based Sudan government accused Israel of supplying arms and providing training to South Sudan rebels. Israel once supplied illicit weapons to South Sudan from within Ethiopia's territory, but had lost influence since the Eritrean independence. As relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia had soured, it became impossible to continue this route and Israel sought other alternative routes to get to its Uganda weapons storage for South Sudan militias through Kenyan territories.
The Somali pirates who hijacked the M/V Faina alleged they found documentation indicating that the cargo on the vessel was destined ultimately for Juba in Southern Sudan. After payment of a ransom of $3.5 million on February 9, 2009, the vessel was released to sail to its intended destination of Mombasa in Kenya.
Clearly, the Israelis were orchestrating the supply of weapons to the SPLM. The M/V Faina incident revealed the clandestine arms pipeline to the South Sudanese SPLA forces.
The Long Arm of the IAF strikes at the Iran-Sudan-Gaza arms supply chain
A ministry spokesman, Ali Sadiq, said Khartoum was investigating several leads regarding the strike, Israel being one of them.
The Sudanese government issued the statement after the US shook off allegations that it was behind the strike
Sudanese government spokesman Rabie A. Atti said reports of the strike were emerging now because it took time to fully probe the attack. He also said that "more than 100 people" had been killed in the air raid, not the 39 reported Thursday by CBS News.
He denied the trucks that were bombed were carrying weapons. "I've heard this allegation, but it's not true," he said. "It was genocide, committed by US forces."
When asked how he knew the forces were American, Rabie responded: "We don't differentiate between the US and Israel. They are all one."
Note this comment from an Israeli Res. Brig. General Shlomo Brom, director of the Program on Israel-Palestinian Relations at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies. He said Israel bombing a weapons convoy in Sudan seemed "very logical." "It fits exactly with the pattern of how Israel operates.”
Reva Bhalla was the first to publicly note the transfer of arms from Iran to Hamas via Sudan. Speaking to reporters in early January, Bhalla suggested the involvement of Hizbullah agents in an Iranian created network bringing arms from Sudan to the Gaza Strip. Bhalla depicted the network in the following terms:
"You'll have a bunch of Hizbullah agents who will procure arms through Sudan. They'll enter Egypt under forged documents, pay off disgruntled Beduins in the Sinai with things like light arms, cash, Lebanese hashish - which they can sell in the black market - and pay off Egyptian security guards as well so that they can travel covertly into Gaza to pass off the weapons shipments through Hamas's pretty extensive underground tunnel network."
It is impossible to verify the precise accuracy of these details. However, the involvement of Sudan in the Iranian-Hamas war effort would fit with the larger pattern of Sudan's regional alliances and activity. The close connections between Teheran, Khartoum and Hamas are a matter of public record.
The reason for such an IAF raid is revealed in this Haaretz report on the suspected Sudan attack:
Any Israeli decision to attack such a distant target would likely have been based on the belief that Iran could deliver arms into Gaza, possibly including 70-kilometer-range Fajr rockets.
That range would allow Hamas operatives to strike into the heart of Israel, Tel Aviv, from their Gaza bases.
Israel’s ability to launch such an audacious attack is based in part in an agreement reached in late January with outgoing Foreign Minister Livni and then US Secretary of State Rice concerning international assistance in preventing weapons smuggling into Gaza for Hamas terrorists to use against Israel.
There was a further report that an IAF action obliterated an Iranian ship in the Arabian Sea suspected of transporting rockets and missiles enroute to Port Sudan. The cargoes were ultimately destined for Hamas in Gaza. Witness this Jerusalem Post report:
"There were indeed two strikes in Sudan, in January and February," Sudan's deputy transportation minister told Channel 10 on Thursday evening. "I cannot confirm that Israel or the US was behind the attack, but I know that the US controls the airspace there," he said.
"The second strike was against a ship at sea and it was completely destroyed," another Sudanese official said.
The London Times revealed in a later report that Israel may have used armed UAVs, the Hermes 450 manufactured by Elbit, that is equipped with two Hellfire missiles. A Hermes UAV squadron is based at Pachamim air base south of Tel Aviv. Mossad may have developed the target intelligence. Further, the Israel Air Force may have used the larger Eitan UAV with a wingspan of 110 feet to possibly refuel the Hermes UAVs. The Hermes 450 UAV can remain aloft for 24 hours, while the Eitan can stay up for 36 hours. Further, Al Jazeera reported that there may have three such attacks on arms convoys in Sudan near the Egyptian border. Moreover Iranian Revolutionary Guards may have been directly involved in the smuggling of convoys of possible Fajr rockets The Times report noted:
Iranian Revolutionary Guards masterminded the smuggling operation. “The Iranians arrived in Port Sudan and liaised with local smugglers,” said a source. The convoy was heading for the Egyptian border where, for a fat fee, local smugglers would take over.Haaretz also notes the reaction of Iran to a recent interception of an Iranian ship bound for Syria and diverted to Cyprus carrying arms:
The Iranians see the recent interception of the arms ship Monchegorsk, which was en route to Syria, as a warning of the difficulties they are likely to face in delivering arms, the source added. That ship, which was carrying arms from Iran to the Syrian army, was stopped in Cyprus following American pressure and its cargo was confiscated.
What should not be lost on Iran and its ally Sudan is that the alleged IAF raid on the convoy in January was within the same operational radius of approximately 700 nautical miles-equidistant from Jerusalem to both Port Sudan and Tehran. Like the September, 2007 IAF raid that took out a nuclear weapons assembly plant being built with North Korean assistance in Northeastern Syria, the details of the Sudan raids will remain shrouded in official silence.
American and Israeli geo-political interests in the current Sudan crisis present sharp contrasts. American foreign policy objectives under the Obama Administration seek a multilateral humanitarian resolution, driven by the focus on the Darfur genocide. Israel on the other hand seeks to deny the capabilities of Sudan to facilitate the objectives of Iran and its terrorist proxies, Hizbullah and Hamas. Notwithstanding the contrast, both countries, especially Israel, realize that support for Sudanese secular opponents of a patently Islamist totalitarian regime requires concerted and continuous action. The Obama Administration faces a daunting task to achieve its objectives through multilateral organizations without alienating the Muslim world. Israel has no such restraints.
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